The characters and situations in this story belong to Christopher Nolan, Legendary Pictures, Syncopy, Henson Associates, Lucasfilm, and other entities, and I do not have permission to borrow them. No infringement is intended in any way, and this story is not for profit. All others belong to me, and if you want to borrow them, you have to ask me first. Any errors are mine, all mine, no you can't have any.

The opinions expressed by characters in this story may or may not be those of the author.

Complete and utter crack!fic. I spent almost more time laughing than I did writing this. Cincoflex gave it her stamp of approval!


"Well, you did warn me." Ariadne sat back in the elaborately carved chair, looking quite at home despite its outsized proportions. "But honestly, Father, I never thought anybody could have the same effect with science!"

Her parent chuckled, his long fingers closing on the arms of his own thronelike seat. "What have I always told you? It's all a matter of will. Magic or science, the worlds that you create stem from nothing but your own will."

Ariadne rolled her eyes. "Like Mom's?"

His lips twitched in amusement that still held an edge of irritation. "There is such a thing as taking it too far."

"I had to. You would have run me right over otherwise." Ariadne's mother stepped into the light, leaning one hip unselfconsciously on the arm of her husband's chair and sliding her own arm around his shoulders. Her casual attitude should have clashed with his icy dignity, but it somehow did not; and the way his face softened as he lifted her free hand to his lips for a kiss bespoke a unity that their disparate appearances did not.

Ariadne watched with a contentment she hadn't yet outgrown. Her parents were a contentious pair, for many reasons, and while she had never doubted their devotion to one another, or to her, it was true that their times of peace were…easier.

It was difficult in its own way, being their offspring, but since it was all she'd ever known, Ariadne had grown up knowing how to cope. Traveling outside their realm and sphere to Paris, to immerse herself in the prosaic, solid world of architecture, had been a shock, but a necessary one; and to their credit they had encouraged it. Ariadne knew her father would have preferred to keep her safe at home, but as the child of two worlds, she needed to spread her wings, figuratively if not literally.

"So when are you going to bring this young man home to meet us?" her mother asked, turning her penetrating gaze on Ariadne, who rolled her eyes again.

"It's not exactly simple, Mom. Which you know." She gestured around the high-ceilinged room. "I mean, sure, if he thought he was Dreaming, but in reality?"

"We could make it simpler." Her father snapped his fingers, and with the slightly theatrical gesture their surroundings went from stone to wallpaper and carpet, a room as ordinary as any in Middle America - if one overlooked the symbols woven into the curtains and the way the pictures on the walls seemed to move within their frames.

And the butler, who possessed a full measure of dignity but only three lumpy feet of height to pack it in. Ariadne took the glass of lemonade from his mirror-polished tray and gave him a nod of greeting. "Thank you, Frithard."

Her mother's lips were twitching. "Nice try, my love," she said, waving Frithard kindly out and ignoring her husband's mild sulk. "I understand, sweetie," she continued, turning back to Ariadne. "But if you're really serious about him…"

"I know, I know." Ariadne frowned. It was possible to keep secrets, even from extractors, but that was no way to nurture a relationship, and besides it was hard.

"If he's truly worthy of you, he'll manage," her father said, and now there was no trace of his usual biting humor. "If he's not…" His gesture this time was sharp, and Ariadne was reminded that he was a king.

But she was a king's daughter, and a queen's; moreover, she was their daughter, and as such had all their strength and stubbornness - will - and a generous helping of her own. She looked him straight in the eye and kept her chin up. "If he's not, I'll handle it, Father. Not you."

For a long second, she could feel that will pressing against her own, his long centuries of unchallenged rule an immeasurable weight behind it. Ariadne didn't waver. She had the right - and besides, her mother had taught her a few tricks.

And then he nodded, pleased and proud; there was no faster way to win her father's respect than to stand up to him. It's a good thing I like arrogant guys, she thought wryly.

Her mother was right. It was time. Sighing, Ariadne reached for her cellphone, and pressed the button that would let it connect to the so-called real world as the room reassumed its proper aspect around her. The voice that answered on the third ring was deep, warm, a private caress against her ear, and Ariadne smiled.

"Hey, Arthur. Listen, remember how you said you wanted to meet my parents…?"

Across from her, the Goblin King and his Queen Sarah smiled back.


Additional note: if you feel so moved, I'd love to know where in this story you figured it out. *grin*